Taliban will not allow Afghans to go to Kabul airport for evacuation, spokesman says


August 26, 2021: -On Tuesday, the Taliban said that the group would not permit Afghan nationals to get away from the country and opposes any extension of evacuation flights, a development that comes one week before U.S. and coalition forces are slated to depart Afghanistan.

On Thursday, a Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters during a news conference that “We are not in favor to allow Afghans to leave.”

“They have the opportunity, they have all the resources, they can take all the people that belong to them, but we are not going to permit Afghans to leave, and we will not extend the deadline,” he said,  that evacuations carried out by foreign forces after August 31 would be a “violation” of a Biden administration promise to end the U.S. military’s mission in the country.

According to an interpreter during the broadcast, “The way to the airport has been closed now. Afghans are not allowed to go there now, foreigners are allowed to go, but we have stopped Afghan nationals from going because the crowd is more, there is the danger that people will lose their lives, there might be a stampede,” Mujahid said.

President Joe Biden has previously said he may consider extending the departure date past August 31 but has yet to do so. Biden is expected to address the nation on the U.S. and coalition forces’ evacuation and relocation efforts on Tuesday following an emergency G-7 meeting.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that there has not been a change to the mission’s timeline.

“The Taliban have been very clear about what their expectations are,” explained Kirby when asked about public Taliban statements opposing a prolonged U.S. military mission in Afghanistan.

“Without getting into details, I do not see much dissonance [between public and private conversations with Taliban],” he added.

On Monday, a Taliban spokesman issued a similar warning during an interview with Sky News regarding a potential extension.

“It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on August 31, they would withdraw all their military forces. So, if they extend it, that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that,” Suhail Shaheen said, according to the report.

“If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” he added.

During a press briefing, White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said that the administration believed it could complete its evacuation efforts by the end of the month.

“We are engaging with the Taliban, consulting with the Taliban on every aspect of what’s happening in Kabul right now,” Sullivan said. “Ultimately, it will be the president’s decision how these proceeds, no one else’s,” he added.

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